The importance of specifying the correct floor for dance and dance education


Whether you are specifying a dance floor for the world’s leading dance companies or for classes in schools, colleges or universities, the same fundamental criteria apply. Wherever a student chooses to study dance, it is important to make sure that the learning environment is equipped to professional standards with sprung floors, mirrors and barres.

Sprung floors
Choosing the correct dance surface is vital for dancers’ health, safety and artistic performance. All sprung floors are not the same and understanding the differences between various types of floors available is important.

Experts in biomechanics have established a clear link between the quality of a dance floor and the likelihood of injury, demonstrating that a floor with a consistent response and the correct degree of ‘traction’ is vital.

Dance creates impact energy. If the energy generated is returned to the body it can result in an array of joint problems, sprains, fractures, knee problems and tendonitis.  Lower limb problems such as tendinitis, ‘shin splints,’ knee pain and ankle strain can all be attributed to incorrectly specified sprung floors and can take several weeks of physical therapy and recovery time to correct. A dance floor that is impact absorbent and provides lateral foot support is essential.

The Performance Surface
One of the main attributes that dancers look for in a floor is slip resistance or ‘traction’. Although athletes share the risk of slipping and falling, they are generally protected by their footwear from floors that might be considered a slip hazard for dancers.

When specifying a floor for dance, using general flooring or sports floor standards will not ensure the right floor is installed – only a floor developed specifically for dance will do.  There have been some high-profile examples where floors have had to be replaced by a dance company after the building is complete because the floor was not considered fit for purpose by the dancers using it.

Harlequin floors are the performance floor of choice for the world’s most prestigious dance and performing arts companies, theatres, venues and schools. Harlequin’s reputation is founded upon the design, manufacture and supply of a range of high quality sprung and vinyl performance floors specified by the world’s leading venues

Case Study. Kingston University – The Town House
A recent Harlequin project was the new Town House building at Kingston University.

Designed by RIBA 2020 Royal Gold Medal winner and Stirling Prize nominated Grafton Architects and constructed by Wilmott Dixon Construction, work on the £260m project started in 2017 and was completed in January 2020.

The new facilities transformed the entire estate including a performance auditorium and performance teaching space and three specialist dance studios.  For the three studios Harlequin supplied and installed a fully floating Harlequin Activity sprung floor with Harlequin Cascade and Harlequin Standfast vinyl performance surfaces totalling over 330 square metres.  Harlequin Ballet Barres and Harlequin Mirrors completed the dance studio facilities.

In the Performance Teaching Space, a Harlequin WoodSpring sprung floor system with a Harlequin Standfast vinyl top surface was supplied and installed to an area of over 180 square metres.

Jason Piper, Associate Professor of Performing Arts at Kingston University said “I’m always reassured by the quality and consistency of Harlequin floors.  All the floors are of the highest quality and allow teachers and students to move with confidence, happy in the knowledge that resistance and shock absorption is consistent across the entire floor and safe across all expected levels of humidity.  The mirrors are huge and provide distortion free reflection and virtually seamless joins”.

Ensure correct specification
Harlequin is the global brand leader for sprung and vinyl performance floors and has an enviable portfolio of dance and education clients from top universities and dance schools to the world’s leading dance companies including the Royal Opera House and Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Houston Ballet and New Zealand Ballet.

Harlequin have over 45 years’ experience manufacturing, supplying and installing professional performance floors and offer a wide range of sprung floor systems and vinyl performance floors to meet every requirement.

For further information and advice about the how to specify the right dance floor for your needs please talk to our technical team on 01892 514 888.